When travelling with kids, Thailand almost never comes to mind. Famous for their full moon parties, sex tourism of every kind and not to mention adventurous food, which would give a parent nightmares, especially if you come from a country which is not used to that food. But we threw caution to the wind and decided to take our three year old daughter to Krabi, and boy, were we pleasantly surprised!
Why Krabi? Why not Pattaya or Phuket. We wanted to avoid Pattaya with their countless buses of gentlemen seeking women. Phuket seemed crowded and commercial. Krabi seemed to stand out for several reasons. You can easily spent about 4 days in Krabi without getting bored, as there are many places you can stay and experience the culture, beaches and food of the town. Ao Nang, Krabi Town, Klong Muang, Phi Phi and Railay are the most popular choices among tourists. Each place has its own charm. In fact, Railay beach is only accessible by boat due to the towering limestone cliffs that surround it. This is fabulous for adventure seekers, as you can go rock climbing, cliff diving, jungle trekking,white water rafting and quad biking here. For an experience of Thai culture and a peek into their market go to Krabi Town.
A useful flight tip: Choose the same Airline/ carrier for all flights, and when you check in tell them to deliver the checked in bags directly at the final destination. They will also give you boarding passes for the connecting flights right at the beginning so you don’t waste time checking in and going through security all over again. Keep about 3 hours gap between connecting flights to complete your visa formalities. Also carry 1000 baht per person in the local currency (Baht) for the visa on arrival, they will not accept anything else. Carry at least 100 USD for eating, shopping and other expenses.
Our Adventure Begins:
We finally arrived after a long layover flight and Krabi was a paradise! Full of couples and families. We stayed at Ao Nang Villa Hotel which had two pools and was just a stone’s throw away from the beach.
You could stay in and be tempted with big lagoon pool.. it will make you jump in and keep you in till you become a prune. The comfy rooms and the facilities will lure you in to relax. It boasts a stunning beach front location, a massive spread for breakfast and a kids play area as well. We ran into a lot of really nice families from Europe, Japan and South America travelling with kids of various ages.. there were little infants too!
I loved the Ao Nang beach stretch because there is a little walking road alongside decorated with lanterns and restaurants. I heard the Noppharathara beach is also good for kids to swim in. The Holiday Inn hotel there has a water slide, so check that out too.
Eat in Krabi:
There were plenty of food options for our toddler Miss Z too. You must try the Fruit Shakes from the stalls. They are not milkshakes, but a fresh fruit and ice slushy and they are fabulous on a hot day! We also had some interesting chocolate banana pancakes from the food stalls. For those of you who don’t want to sample the spicy Thai food, go to “Wanna’s Place” for some European fare. Their hot plate steak is yummy and their Massaman curry is a must try too. Blue Mango is a longer walk but the menu is quite interesting and its nice for a fancy dinner. None of the food was spicy, and Miss Z was able to have it with sticky rice. One restaurant I really wanted to try, but wasn’t able to go to for lack of time was Lae Ley Grill. It is perched on a hill top with a breathtaking view of the sunset over the islands, and serves some exotic seafood. It’s pricey, so plan a date night and go there! They will even pick and drop you from your hotel if you make a reservation one day in advance. The buffet at Ao Nang Villa hotel was also good. There were 3 live stations preparing various types of Thai food and grilled meats. They also had the usual fresh fruit selections and desserts.
Fun things to see/ do with kids:
Ao Nam Mao Outdoor Aquarium, and the Emerald pool are interesting and a good excursion if you have an extra day. But if you have just 2 or 3 days in Krabi, I would recommend the activities below:
The folks at Krabi Trek organise a lot of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. You must try the elephant trek! Kids will love it. http://krabitrek.com/tours/tour_krabi_elephant_trek.php
The real thrill, I believe are the islands. Krabi itself isn’t an island, but there are about 200 little islands and islets along the coastline. Most people go Maya bay or the famous Phi Phi islands on a tour when they visit Krabi. But see, every single tourist has the exact same idea… so while you think you’re gonna be seeing a pristine empty lagoon and beach, the reality is that the entire seashore is full of parked long tail boats and speed boats. Its thronged with tourists and people all trying to get selfies. So we didn’t do that!!
Instead, why not opt for the 4 island tour (Visit : Poda Island,Tub Island, Chicken Head Island, Pranang Cave ) or the Hong island excursion and try kayaking in the lagoon.
If you have older kids you may all love the experience of a traditional Thai Long Tail boat. If you want to spend more money and get a personalized tour, you can also get a private Long tail boat tour. I checked out “Andaman Camp and Cruise Long Tail boat service” which has wonderful reviews and is run by an English speaking lady called Elizabeth. More info here: http://www.andamancampandcruise.com/ . All 3 of us tend to get sea sick so we didn’t opt for that.
We visited the Hong Islands and Lagoons by speedboat. Best decision ever!! It was not crowded and the tour was not rushed. you may not get the cheapest price from your hotel so walk around and check out the tour stalls on the beach road. Each will offer you a better price than the last. There is absolutely no shame in bargaining in Thailand, so go right on ahead. the Timing is from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm departing from Aonang beach. They may pick you earlier if you are staying outside Aonang. We opted for a speedboat because it is less bumpy on the water, and is much faster. The Hong islands are 30 min away by speedboat and 60 min by Long tail boat.
The speedboat was thrilling for our 3 year old, and the islands darting out of the water are gorgeous like a postcard. You get about an hour at each place to swim, take pictures, snorkel, sunbathe, etc. They will provide snorkeling masks, water and a simple lunch on the tour.
One of the beaches they took us to was Hong Island bay. Hong means Room, and this beach is a cozy sheltered little cove with very calm shallow water. You can safely take your kids snorkeling there as there are plenty of small colorful fish around. The water is crystal clear so you can even see the fish from above the water! I should mention that those fish eat the strangest things! we fed them banana bits and they swarmed to our outstretched palms much to Miss Z’s delight! On the down side, there are NO toilets on this island!! so if nature calls, be prepared to be one with nature here.
The next stop was Pakbia island which was the highlight of our day! Fantastic photo spot, turquoise waters with a nice sand bank in the middle reaching another rock island.
On our way to the other beach you get taken through a unique winding green lagoon, surrounded with towering rock cliffs and a rock monolith in the center. Many people go kayaking here because it’s quite shallow and you get a different perspective from a kayak.
Finally, we stopped at the Hong island National park island, for which you have to buy an entrance ticket for 300 baht per person. (No one even asked to see the ticket BTW). Here they served us a very simple Thai lunch, and if you don’t want that you can buy your own at the restaurant. Yes, and this place had toilets! yay! This beach was hit by the Tsunami and has Giant Clam shells and heaps of coral all over the shore. Simply gorgeous, the sand is white and fine like talcum powder. Not advisable to drop your camera in it .we did, and the sand went inside and that was the end of the camera 🙁 But no camera could ever capture the truly spectacular blue crystal clear waters, or the towering rock formations that jut out of the sea around Krabi. It is meant to be seen with your own eyes and experienced, with the wind blowing in your hair, frothy white foam flying high as you speed across the water by boat.
Useful things to bring to Krabi:
- If you have younger children, I recommend bringing your own life jackets for them as the ones provided are standard size. The Bangkok airport duty free has good ones.
- If you plan on diving or going in the water, buy a waterproof ‘Ocean pack’. The #6 one costs about 500 baht at the airport and about 300 baht in Krabi. Very handy for storing water, camera, phones and other things you need to keep dry while swimming or kayaking.